Plans for world's largest log church emerge in Oregon City
Pastor Joe Wardlow has a dream to build a log church in Oregon City and is fundraising $2.6 million to purchase more than eight acres of land on Beavercreek Road.
Trail's End Log Church obtained 501(c)(3) tax status from the Internal Revenue Service last month, meaning funds donated to the organization are now tax-deductible.
No precise address for the construction on Beavercreek Road has been announced, but if fundraising efforts to purchase the property are successful, Wardlow has big plans for the site. Separate buildings are envisioned for a school and a prayer chapel, as well as an 800-seat worship space in the church's main auditorium, all built out of cedar.
If built, it would be the world's largest log church, and cost an estimated $20 million. Wardlow said the church would have far-reaching historic significance. He said the Trails End Log Church would represent the time period when Christianity was founded in Oregon.
"Oregon City is God's chosen location for Trails End Log Church because it is the historic location of the end of the Oregon Trail, where (the) Rev. Jason Lee, 'Circuit Riding Preacher to the West,' brought the word of God to the far side of the nation," according to the church's website .
Lee, a Canadian Methodist missionary, played a prominent role in promoting white settlement in the Willamette Valley in the 1800s and led to Oregon's eventual annexation into the United States.
Asked why the church would be constructed of cedar, Wardlow replied that cedar seems to be God's favorite tree, since 28 verses of the Bible refer to the material.
Wardlow is working in cooperation with the Northwest Baptist Convention, but the effort is not solely Baptist. Among the board members for Trails End Log Church are Junction City pastors who serve the Church of the Nazarene and a Foursquare Church about 100 miles south of Oregon City.
"We're bringing churches together to support this cause," Wardlow said.
Wardlow grew up in poverty in a non-Christian household that worked the logging camps in Northern California. Wardlow started "Trails End Ministry," an evangelistic outreach in the trails and parks that run through the center of Redmond, in Central Oregon.
At the completion of the building, a pastor from the Southern Baptist Convention would be called to lead the yet-to-be-formed congregation.
If Trails End Log Church's fundraising goals don't succeed, Wardlow has said the funds will instead help fund other planned churches by Northwest Baptist Convention, though Wardlow, board members and supporters firmly do not believe this will occur.
For more information on the church, visit trailsendlogchurch.com.
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